1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/John II. of France
JOHN II. (1319–1364), surnamed the Good, king of France, son of Philip VI. and Jeanne of Burgundy, succeeded his father in 1350. At the age of 13 he married Bona of Luxemburg, daughter of John, king of Bohemia. His early exploits against the English were failures and revealed in the young prince both avarice and stubborn persistence in projects obviously ill-advised. It was especially the latter quality which brought about his ruin. His first act upon becoming king was to order the execution of the constable, Raoul de Brienne. The reasons for this are unknown, but from the secrecy with which it was carried out and the readiness with which the honour was transferred to the king’s close friend Charles of La Cesda, it has been attributed to the influence and ambition of the latter. John surrounded himself with evil counsellors, Simon de Buci, Robert de Lorris, Nicolas Braque, men of low origin who robbed the treasury and oppressed the people, while the king gave himself up to tournaments and festivities. In imitation of the English order of the Garter, he established the knightly order of the Star, and celebrated its festivals with great display. Raids of the Black Prince in Languedoc led to the states-general of 1355, which readily voted money, but sanctioned the right of resistance against all kinds of pillage—a distinct commentary on the incompetence of the king. In September 1356 John gathered the flower of his chivalry and attacked the Black Prince at Poitiers. The utter defeat of the French was made the more humiliating by the capture of their king, who had bravely led the third line of battle. Taken to England to await ransom, John was at first installed in the Savoy Palace, then at Windsor, Hertford, Somerton, and at last in the Tower. He was granted royal state with his captive companions, made a guest at tournaments, and supplied with luxuries imported by him from France. The treaty of Brétigny (1360), which fixed his ransom at 3,000,000 crowns, enabled him to return to France, but although he married his daughter Isabella to Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan, for a gift of 600,000 golden crowns, imposed a heavy feudal “aid” on merchandise, and various other taxes, John was unable to pay more than 400,000 crowns to Edward III. His son Louis of Anjou, who had been left as hostage, escaped from Calais in the summer of 1363, and John, far in arrears in the payments of the ransom, surrendered himself again “to maintain his royal honour which his son had sullied.” He landed in England in January 1364 and was received with great honour, lodged again in the Savoy, and was a frequent guest of Edward at Westminster. He died on the 8th of April, and the body was sent back to France with royal honours.
See Froissart’s Chronicles; Duc d’Aumale, Notes et documents relatifs à Jean, roi de France, et à sa captivité (1856); A. Coville, in Lavisse’s Histoire de France, vol. iv., and authorities cited there.